Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Activist Anticipate Immigration Policies

Now that President Joe Biden has signed an executive order, reversing former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, activists are optimistic but are not taking breaks from their efforts, as there is more work to be done.

Throughout the history of the United States, immigration has always been a topic of debate. Undocumented immigrants, especially those that don’t come from Western Europe, face countless obstacles. Some of the most difficult challenges immigrants face are the process of obtaining a visa and becoming an official United States citizen. With a variable wait time, it can take up to six months to two years, oftentimes longer, to become an American citizen. Another setback can sometimes be the cost. The application fee costs $640 and biometric services cost $85. These fees alone add up to a total of $725, and when you pile on the cost of legal services, the total amount due becomes unaffordable for many immigrants.

The cost and application process is one part of the problem. Immigrants are also faced with issues of deportation, obtaining affordable health care, getting paid a living wage, among others. These plights have fueled activists for decades. Another main issue that caused an increase in activism in 2018 was former President Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy. The implementation of this policy led to undocumented immigrant families being separated at the border, and to date, hundreds of children have yet to be reunited with their parents.

Issues like these are what push activists to fight for change. Full-time student and activist Laisha Santillan was just entering high school when she began to notice Trump’s campaign promises about immigration. “Many of his words hit close to home,” says Santillan.

After seeing negative actions being taken on her community, she began researching to learn more information and later created an educational platform on her Instagram page to share and spread awareness to her followers. Santillan has also participated in multiple protests and has organized a Black Lives Matter protest in the city of Buena Park.

Spreading awareness and teaching others about issues going on in the community is a form of empowerment that should not go unnoticed.

Santillan went on to describe her views on President Biden’s immigration policies and what it means to her as an activist. “I liked his campaign promises. But, he can’t just do the executive orders. There needs to be action after that,” she explains. Activists are paying close attention, as they are looking for kept promises and big changes.

Robert Herrera, Director of Community Engagement at Resilience OC, is one of many activists in the country that stays hopeful.

“We took a deep breath after the election,” says Herrera, explaining the emotion of relief they felt, change just might be on the horizon.

Herrera grew up in Santa Ana, and after seeing what was happening in their community, they decided to work towards making a change. Resilience OC helps younger people who face immigration issues by spreading helpful information to the community. As a leader of the organization, Herrera would visit schools, before the pandemic, to help students learn more about immigration policies, like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), that they can benefit from.

Herrera, like most immigration activists, hopes to see detention centers cease their operations and a decrease in deportations. However, given the history on immigration and how it has been an ongoing issue with each presidency, its hard to examine if and when activists will see these hopes become a reality.

“I am worried that detentions and deportations are still going to continue. We need to push back on that. I am hoping the Biden Administration releases as many people as possible from immigration detentions,” Herrera explains.

One of the bills that many are hoping to see pass under Biden’s administration is the New Way Forward Act, which was reintroduced in Congress on January 26, 2021. This legislation would overall reduce mass detention of migrants and would be intended to shut down privately-operated detention centers. There are currently over 200 detention centers, including private ones, in the country run by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This bill would also require county jails to stop holding immigrants in custody based on their undocumented status.

This act has made immigration and criminal defense attorney Luz Tijerina-Garduño and her clients more hopeful. She describes a majority of her clients fear being deported and being separated from their children. Her clients want to stay in the country when going through the application process, something that was difficult to accomplish under the Trump Administration.

“For the past four years, the government has been very strict with immigration. Us attorneys can already tell that they are being a little more lenient with us, even if the public may not directly see it. We are hoping that President Biden will go back to using administrative closure and give people a second chance. It is giving some people hope,” says Tijerina-Garduño.

Immigration attorney and Immigrant Justice Corps fellow Diego Menendez-Estrada is optimistic to seeing\ private detention centers being shut down. One of the main things he wants the new administration to achieve is an expansion of DACA.

“DACA is no longer under threat. We want to cover young people who came in after the cutoff in 2007,” says Mendez. Under DACA, young undocumented immigrants must have continuously resided in the United States before June 15, 2007, in order to be eligible. This poses a problem for other undocumented immigrants who face many hurdles in obtaining legal status in the U.S.

Megan Debin, a professor and advisor for the Puente Program at Fullerton College, uses her position to support DACA students and learn about their struggles. She advocates for immigration policy changes by donating money to programs that support change. She also helps students by communicating information about student protests to the Fullerton College Administration and has participated in a few protests in the past.

Debin, like other activists, believes that the campaign promises made by Biden were good. “However, immigrant rights organizations have alarmed us that many people have been deported in the past month. It is disheartening,” she says.

One of President Biden’s campaign promises was to have no deportations during his first 100 days in office. This promise has not been kept and 127,457 of undocumented immigrants have been deported, according to the pro-immigrant organization United We Dream.

Immigration attorney Murbarak Malik advocates for change within the immigration system. He supports his clients by spreading important information on various different platforms and strives to put them before his own needs. Despite the broken promise, Malik sees President Biden’s policies heading in the right direction for immigrants.

“Biden is backing legislation that would give legal status and pathway to citizenship to an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States. I am really excited about that. I hope that becomes something we see in his presidency,” he mentions.

Malik speaks of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, a legislation that would create an eight-year pathway for individuals and allow new immigrants into the U.S., while giving legal status to immigrants who are currently within the country.

The legislation will contribute to responsibly managing the border by taking communities and families into consideration, as they control the migration between countries. Border managing was a constant situation that was not controlled correctly by the Trump administration that resulted with children being separated from their families.

Recently, over 13,000 migrant children are in custody without their parents. Activists are now turning to President Biden to see what he will do for the children and other immigrants.


For more information or support regarding immigration, you can find help at the organizations listed below:

Orange County Rapid Response Network


714) 881-1558


Resilience Orange County


(657) 210-0157


World Relief Southern California

(714) 210-4730